House Rules Re: [FoRK] The drum beat continues

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar < drernie at > on > Fri Nov 17 08:25:40 PST 2006

Hi Stephen,

On Nov 16, 2006, at 6:02 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:

> True enough.  I think that avoiding being based on faith is not  
> just a tiny difference, but fundamental and pervasive,

See, that is where you completely lost me.   As far as I can tell,  
Dawkins is motivated by "faith in the scientific method" in precisely  
the same way his adversaries are motivated by "faith in God."  You  
can't see the scientific method any more than I can see God (perhaps  
less :-P), but that doesn't mean neither of them are real.

As a physicist, I have great faith in the scientific method and the  
power of mathematics to explain the universe, but I am fully aware  
that this is something I *choose* to believe. And I work extremely  
hard to ensure my faith in God remains just as theoretically rigorous  
and empirically sound as my other beliefs (and vice versa).

> but on top of that the mechanisms of discourse are pretty much the  
> same a fair amount of the time.

Okay, fair enough. Thanks.

>> Kinda like House. Yeah, sometimes it is what people need. But  
>> sometimes he uses and abuses people just to satisfy his own ego,  
>> regardless of "truth" or "right."  And I don't think he always  
>> knows which is which.
> Possibly.  It's hard to say.  The writers delight in making it look  
> that way all the time and then at least part of the time revealing  
> that he had perfectly good intentions and was not squeamish about  
> making others uncomfortable and challenged to get there.

True, but they also delight in giving him his comeuppance at the end  
of many episodes.  My favorite was the cancer girl whom [SPOILER  
ALERT] he was sure was only brave because of brain damage. :-)

> I think that "just to satisfy his own ego" needs to be  
> deconstructed a lot more.  There is plenty of evidence that House  
> wants and needs to be right.  There is a lot less that he does so  
> for recognition (pride, narcissism, etc.).

Um, I think we're defining "ego" a little differently.  If you mean  
ego as "needing strokes from other people", then yeah, absolutely,  
House is not guilty of that. But egocentrism and narcissism are not  
about external recognition but satisfying the self's need to feel  
good about itself, regardless of the cost to others.  Heck, if you  
read your article on narcissism, you should recall that it was about  
self-worship, not seeking worship from others:

As far as I can tell, House fits both those articles to a "T" (except  
for his brief moments of remorse at the end of the episode, while the  
music's playing :-).  Would you disagree?

>  I interpret his drive as needing to make a positive difference, to  
> demonstrate his value to himself by being right and saving people,  
> and making maximum benefit while essentially preventing plaudits.

I think the evidence -- including his own statements -- are far more  
consistent with his *primary* drive being "to the need to be  
right" (which, speaking from experience, is a drug more powerful that  
Vicodin :-).  Sure, we're all glad that he's in a profession where  
that drive usually saves lives, but (as in last year's season finale)  
I think even he realizes that sometimes his obsession causes a great  
deal of unnecessary pain.

> sdw - not humble or meek, but setting tough goals and happily  
> screwing up and falling short of my own expectations about every  
> other minute and diligently trying to point out my own faults  
> before anyone can beat me to it.

I can point out my own faults faster than you can point out yours.  
Nyaah! :-P

-- Ernie "recovering egocentrist" Prabhakar

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